Surf claims master waterman in Philippines

FRIENDS have been left shocked by the surfing death of experienced waterman and master mariner John Stuckey who died on a remote part of the Phillippines late last year.

The Seafood Cruises Mooloolaba skipper had been surfing the north east coast of Mindanao, when he died in big swell on December 28.

Dave Bull, who had worked and surfed with Mr Stuckey for the past 20 years, was in the Philippines surfing in Luzon when his friend died.

He had been waiting for Mr Stuckey to fly up and join him and had texted him New Year's eve only to receive no reply. Eventually he had been contacted by Mr Stuckey's son Cameron who informed him of the tragedy.

"It was a big swell just before the last typhoon to hit the southern Philippines," Mr Bull said.

"He was going to spend a week with me but he drowned."

Mr Bull said his friend's body would be returned to Australia next week ahead of his funeral at Lakes Entrance on January 18.

Mr Stuckey, a highly-experienced master four skipper, was also a superbly fit waterman who trained and surfed daily.

 

John Stuckey, Seafood Cruises Mooloolaba manager Rachel Eames and owner-chef James Thorogood at their last Christmas cruise.
John Stuckey, Seafood Cruises Mooloolaba manager Rachel Eames and owner-chef James Thorogood at their last Christmas cruise.

According to Seafood Cruises Mooloolaba owner James Thorogood, Mr Stuckey "lived and breathed" the ocean.

"It's very sad," Mr Thorogood said. "We've taken the week off. It's hit us hard.

"He's the fittest man I've known. I can't see it happening that he drowned. He surfed all the time and in big surf.

"He could have had a heart attack or hit his head."

Originally from the Victorian eastern coastal town of Lakes Entrance, Mr Stuckey owned a home in Buderim with his wife.

Mr Thorogood said it was his understanding Mr Stuckey was planning to complete renovations, sell the home and move to the Phillippines to retire.

 

Seafood Cruises Mooloolaba and Whale Watch One skipper John Stuckey was always a hit with kids.
Seafood Cruises Mooloolaba and Whale Watch One skipper John Stuckey was always a hit with kids.

 

"He was an amazing, beautiful man who would do anything for anyone. He would not hurt anyone and you could trust him absolutely.

"He was a really good friend. You could always ring John if you needed a hand. He was a solid guy."

Rick Poole, who had known Mr Stuckey since 1981 when they first met in Lakes Entrance, said they had reconnected on the Sunshine Coast.

Mr Stuckey had trained him to take over his job.

"He was a marine guy who understood the water and what the fish were doing," Mr Poole said.

He said his friend had a quiver of boards and was on a surfari on the north east coast of Mindanao planning to surf a couple of heavy wave breaks.

Mr Poole said on December 27, the day before Mr Stuckey was said to have died, there had been a 6-10 foot swell in the area.

John Stuckey was a master mariner, experienced waterman and extremely fit when he died in a shock surfing accident in the Philippines
John Stuckey was a master mariner, experienced waterman and extremely fit when he died in a shock surfing accident in the Philippines

Family and friends have been invited to celebrate John's life at a funeral service to be held on January 18 from 2pm at the Lakes Entrance Surf Life Saving Club.

A wake would follow at the Kalimna Hotel, Kalimna.

Mr Bull said he would gather close mates of Mr Stuckey at the same time to toast a friend who had lived life on the edge.

"He was living the life he wanted to live and always had," he said.

"He was a great waterman, seaman and a good bloke and a great worker. He will be missed."

Mr Stuckey suffered a serious fall from a ladder while working on a construction site with Mr Bull about seven months ago and spent time in hospital.

Bluff Boardriders would conduct a paddle out ceremony at the Red Bluff Beach, Lake Tyers on January 19.

Mr Stuckey was survived by his children Simone, Brigitte, Bianca and Cameron and his wife Susan.



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